By; PAYRICK TITUS, Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State Government has said that it will not leave any stone unturned to making the state the sports capital of Nigeria and Africa.
Governor Udom Emmanuel stated this when he declared open the 2nd Akwa Ibom Youth Sports Festival for Primary and Secondary Schools in the State at the Chief Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Tuesday March 6, 2018.
Governor Emmanuel said the ongoing construction of sports centre in each of the ten federal constituencies of the state are parts of effort to achieve the destination, adding that sports remains the most unifying tool for national cohesion.
Speaking also on the significance of the youth sports festival, he said though not all Akwa Ibom children are born with the same talent by but the competition is aimed at providing equal opportunity for Akwa Ibom children to explore their innate potentials for greater tomorrow in sports.
According to him, government would not rest until the likes of another Serena Williams, Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, Lebron James and Usain Bolt are discovered in Akwa Ibom for Nigerian National team.
However, he advised the participants to uphold the required standard of fair play and never to take sports as a replacement for their academics.
“I congratulate all the participating schools and enjoin you all to make good use of this opportunity to showcase your talents. Sports is the goldmine of our generation. It can take you from the land of obscurity to the firmament of stardom and instant celebrity with attendant benefits.
“It is money-churning venture and provides a passport to an instant flight to fame beyond your wildest imaginations. But you have a role to play: One rule that cuts across all competitive sports is discipline; if you do not radiate it, live it and breathe it then this event is not for you.
“We urge you all to show utmost discipline and to take this completion as a very serious undertaking. The universal language of sports is fair play. Let us see this value radiate in you in the course of this competition,” he stated.
Adding also, he said “Let me also caution here that, our investments in sports does not in any way replace your academic activities in school. It only complements it. As a Government, our pledge and commitment is to make Akwa Ibom State the sports capital of Nigeria and indeed Africa.”
In his message at the festival, the minister of youth and sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung stressed the need for states in the country to consistently involve youths in grassroots sports in order to remove their minds from engaging in criminal activities and restiveness.
Represented by his Permanent Secretary, Dr. Esther Tonye Aluko, the minister opined that, organization of grassroots sports was critical in states now as such would bring about high performance during sports activities in the country and beyond for those states.
To succeed he advised that, adequate funds should be set aside for systematic and structural development that would help them have as base where talents would be taken out for competitions on behalf of the states.
The Minister said he was happy that Akwa Ibom state was already on the part to sport excellence, stressing that, such was evidence during the 2017 national youth games held in Kwara state.
Among other highlights at the festivals were march past by athletes from the 31 local government areas of the state with Governor Emmanuel taking salute, track events as well as the exhibition under 13 football match between Uyo and Ikot Ekpene teams.
Over 12, 000 pupils and students drawn from primary and secondary schools in the state participated in the festival. The maiden edition of the competition held last year.
By; PAYRICK TITUS, Uyo